O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree — what would Christmas be without thee?
For hundreds of years, going back to pre-Christian times, the evergreen tree has been a symbol of hope in the yuletide season. And today, finding the perfect tree is a holiday ritual for many families.
Signs direct guests to the u-cut trees at Five Springs Tree Farm. Charlee Glock-Jackson / Gig Harbor Now
For some, a local Christmas tree lot is the source. But for others — many others these past two years — finding and cutting their own tree is an annual adventure that takes them into the mountains or to a tree farm with a variety of evergreens ready to be cut and hauled home.
Gig Harbor families whose holiday celebrations center on a tree they’ve cut themselves have several choices within easy driving distance.
Five Springs Tree Farm is the closest local u-cut option. Off of Bandix Road near Purdy, just across the Kitsap County line, the farm has been in the Kingsbury family for more than 50 years. Doug Kingsbury’s father bought the 180-acre farm in 1954. The land had been logged in the 1930s and Mother Nature had replanted it. To the elder Kingsbury and his partner, it was the perfect place to grow Christmas trees.
“But Dad and his partner soon found out that 180 acres of Christmas trees is an awful lot of work, so now about 172 acres goes to timber and we have 8 acres of Christmas trees,” Doug Kingsbury said.
Five Springs Tree Farm owner Doug Kingsbury with a 7-year old noble fir. Charlee Glock-Jackson / Gig Harbor Now
Business has always been good, but it “really picked up in 2020 and it looks like the same thing again this year,” Kingsbury said. Last year, after months of COVID isolation, many families decided that going out into the great outdoors to get their Christmas tree was a chance to do something fun.
The supply at Five Springs looks good this year.
“The trees had been suffering from several years of drought, but they’ve had a chance to perk up since we installed a drip irrigation system,” Kingsbury said.
The farm grows about half a dozen species, including noble firs, Turkish and Nordman firs, Douglas firs and Norway spruce. Turkish firs are becoming more and more popular because their keep-ability is longer
“In fact, we know a lady who kept her tree up until March because it didn’t dry out at all,” Kingsbury said.
He anticipates that within 10 years, Turkish firs will likely be the most popular variety.
This past summer, with 100-plus-degree temperatures, many farms suffered major damage. Kingsbury’s trees didn’t fare as badly as some.
Amanda Edwards makes a wreath as Linda Kingsbury looks on at Five Springs Tree Farm. Charlee Glock-Jackson / Gig Harbor Now
“But there was some damage to some of the bigger trees — sunburned needles – but they’ll recover and they’ll be fine in a year or two,” he said. And the recent rain and windstorms removed most of the sunburnt needles, so things look good.
Prices range from $6 to $11 per foot and typically trees cost from $40 to $80.
The farm also sells handmade evergreen wreaths, crafted by Kingsbury’s wife and her sisters from greenery found on the farm. Every year the ladies make special “Back the Blue” wreaths decorated with police-related ornaments such as badges and squad cars that they donate to local law enforcement departments.
As with other farms, Five Springs used to offer free hot cider to customers, but COVID cautions prevent that this year. Instead, they’re giving away pre-wrapped candy canes.
After this weekend, Kingsbury said, it’s best to call ahead to make sure Five Springs is still open, at (253) 514-1322.
Lots of trees ready for cutting at Five Springs Tree Farm. Charlee Glock-Jackson / Gig Harbor Now
More options for u-cut trees are available in Kitsap County. Also close to Gig Harbor is Christmas Traditions Tree Farm on Sidney Road.
Gail and Scott Kiele purchased the 12-acre farm from the original owners several years ago. It was first planted in the 1970s, and today they grow seven varieties of evergreens: Noble fir, Turkish fir, Norway spruce, blue spruce, Douglas fir and grand fir. Sizes range from 4 feet to 12 feet and sell for $10 per foot, except Douglas firs, that go for $8 per foot. Prices are the same as they were three years ago.
“We’re a family-owned business and my husband and I do almost all the work ourselves, so we try to keep our prices really reasonable,” Gail Kiele said.
Although the drought of the past several years affected the trees, the Kieles planted many new ones and have a good supply this year. They irrigate regularly to keep the trees happy. Still, the Norway spruces did suffer some sunburn on one side during this summer’s heat wave.
Freshly made wreaths at Five Springs Tree Farm. Charlee Glock-Jackson / Gig Harbor Now
“It was really interesting to see,” Gail Kiele said. “You could tell which side of the tree was exposed to the sunlight because that’s the side that got burned.”
In addition to the trees, the Kieles also sell tree stands and Christmas ornaments in their shop, including unusual, vintage ornaments that Gail finds when the couple travels. They don’t have wreaths this year, partly because “so many big-box stores sell wreaths and we just can’t compete with their prices,” she said.
Due to increased demand the past two years, the farm will close for the year on Dec. 12. They’ll be open Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Dec. 12 from noon to 4:30 p.m. Call (360) 349-2010 or visit Christmas Traditions Tree Farm on Facebook for information.
Kitsap County has a number of other farms where families can cut their own trees.
The Wreath Works, on Glenwood Road, has a large variety of trees and wreaths. It is open daily from 9 a.m. until dark.
Alpine U-Cut, on Lake Flora Road, has 150 acres of trees.
Bacon’s Christmas Tree Farm, on West Belfair Valley Road, has more than 50 acres. It has both you-choose, you-cut and you-choose, we-cut trees, including Canaan firs, Fraser firs, grand firs, noble firs and Douglas firs.
Turnbull Trees in Lakebay looks like a u-cut farm, but the trees are actually pre-cut and then propped up on the farm “to look like they’re growing there,” according to Tami Turnbull. The Turnbull family has provided trees for Gig Harbor families for more than 40 years. This year they moved their operation to the Key Peninsula.
They sell only freshly cut noble firs that they harvest in the mountains.
“Eventually, we’ll grow our own trees,” Turnbull added, “but for now we’re cutting the trees.”
They have trees in all sizes, and if they don’t have exactly the size you need, they’ll cut one special for you, and even deliver it to your home for a small fee.
“And our boys will even help you put your tree up,” she said.
Trees are priced at $10 per foot, “… but we’re not sticklers about the price, and if a family finds a tree that they love, but just can’t afford, we’ll negotiate a price,” she said.
Turnbull anticipates that the farm will be open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until dusk until Christmas Eve. They are also open by appointment during the week. Call (253) 377-8676.
For the truly adventurous, cutting a tree from a national forest can be a daylong — or even an overnight — excursion into the wilderness. Permits cost $5 and are available online at recreation.gov and from regional vendors, including Hoodsport Visitor Information Center, Swains General Store in Port Angeles, Sequim Visitor Information Center and the North Hood Canal Chamber of Commerce in Quilcene.
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